Manchester City faced last Saturday and for the next week what can only be described as one of the toughest three consecutive fixtures in world football. Chelsea (A), followed by a trip to Paris Saint-Germain (A) and finally Liverpool (A).
City deservedly beat Chelsea 1-0 to pick up 3 vital points in the title race, having lost the previous 3 competitive fixtures to the London club. A loss to PSG seemed unfair – City controlled the match and had the majority of the chances, with Bernardo Silva missing a clear-cut chance.
However, does this loss to PSG really matter in the grand scheme of things? City currently sit in 3rd in Group A; however, we have played the toughest fixture in the group, and we are yet to play the lowest-ranked side – Club Brugge. Realistically, City will make it through the group stages, and it is not always the case that the first-placed team in the group have the easiest draw in the round of 16. After all, Sheriff Tiraspol have been spectacular and beaten both Shaktar Donetsk and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu to sit top of their group.
Therefore, surely most City fans will agree this week as it stands has been a huge success, we have won the most important game of the week (so far). Liverpool was a real test, away at Anfield. The last of this fixture saw City win 4-1, however, this was in an empty stadium and Liverpool were without one of their star players – Virgil Van Dijk.
How many points earned tomorrow would see City be praised for overcoming such a week? As a fan, at the start of this week, 4 points from Chelsea and Liverpool is a resounding success, is it not? Considering both fixtures are away and against both our biggest title contenders. This of course means a draw tomorrow is a good, if not a great result going into the international break. A win tomorrow and that sends off a massive warning to the rest of the league – and all without a striker!
Looking at the league more closely, as much as we hope it isn’t the case – even a loss away to Liverpool really is not the end of the world. If this was to be the case, we would sit 1 point behind Manchester United, 3 points behind Chelsea (provided they beat Southampton (H) on Saturday at 3pm) and 4 points behind Liverpool.
Despite potentially sitting behind all our title contenders, City have had by far the most difficult start to the season. We will have already played Leicester, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool, all away from home and Arsenal. The only ‘top 6’ team (if we can still call it a top 6), left to face is Manchester United. Going into the second half of the season, we will be playing the majority of these fixtures at home – a huge advantage.
No doubt Pep Guardiola and the team will go for the win at Anfield, and so they should, come on City!